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physics

Photo of a diver between two tectonic plates in Silfra. reykjavik. Iceland
geophysics

Why Earth’s Cracked Crust May Be Essential for Life

Life needs more than water alone. Recent discoveries suggest that plate tectonics has played a critical role in nourishing life on Earth. The findings carry major consequences for the search for life elsewhere in the universe.

Quantized Columns

There Are No Laws of Physics. There’s Only the Landscape.

Scientists seek a single description of reality. But modern physics allows for many different descriptions, many equivalent to one another, connected through a vast landscape of mathematical possibility.

Photo of inside the MiniBooNE tank
Abstractions blog

Evidence Found for a New Fundamental Particle

An experiment at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago has detected far more electron neutrinos than predicted — a possible harbinger of a revolutionary new elementary particle called the sterile neutrino, though many physicists remain skeptical.

Photo of Michela Massimi
Q&A

Questioning Truth, Reality and the Role of Science

In an era when untestable ideas such as the multiverse hold sway, Michela Massimi defends science from those who think it hopelessly unmoored from physical reality.

astronomy

Stellar Disks Reveal How Planets Get Made

Detailed images of disks swirling around young stars show the details of how solar systems come to be.

Illustration of a black hole with a Cauchy horizon
general relativity

Mathematicians Disprove Conjecture Made to Save Black Holes

Mathematicians have disproved the strong cosmic censorship conjecture. Their work answers one of the most important questions in the study of general relativity and changes the way we think about space-time.

Illustration of a hanging mobile with "Planet 9" weighing down 2015 BP519's orbit, thus tilting it.
planetary science

A New World’s Extraordinary Orbit Points to Planet Nine

Astronomers argue that there’s an undiscovered giant planet far beyond the orbit of Neptune. A newly discovered rocky body has added evidence to the circumstantial case for it.

Photo of Large Magellan Cloud rotating clockwise.
Abstractions blog

What Astronomers Are Learning From Gaia’s New Milky Way Map

A roundup of some of the most important discoveries gleaned so far from the Gaia space observatory’s new map of the galaxy.

Art for "Three Decades Later, Mystery Numbers Explained"
Abstractions blog

Three Decades Later, Mystery Numbers Explained

Zeta values seem to connect distant geometric worlds. In a new proof, mathematicians finally explain why.